Losing ruckman Nic Naitanui indefinitely is exactly opposite to what the West Coast Eagles would have preferred.
Naitanui has one of those nagging syndesmosis injuries to his right ankle, the same sort of thing that removed Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors at the precise wrong time during the NBA playoffs.
The Eagles are of the belief that surgery will not be necessary, but his playing status for the rest of the year is hard to ascertain.
That news comes on the heels of the discovery that Daniel Venables is done for the year with concussion symptoms. That injury happened in Round 9 during a game with Melbourne.
In times past, not that long ago, Venables would have been back on the following week, but as the entire sports world learns of the long-term consequences of concussions, consequences that include early onset dementia and even early onset death, professional sports clubs have adopted a conservative approach to head injuries.
West Coast has, of its six remaining games in the Toyota 2019 AFL Premiership competition, just two games, with Adelaide and Richmond, that appear threatening, but Hawthorn in the final round could be risky if the Hawks are in control of their own destiny and need a win to qualify for finals.
For some perspective on Naitanui’s injury, consider that West Coast defender Liam Duggan had a similar injury the week prior that ruled him out for six weeks.
Once again, the playing surface of Optus Stadium has come under scrutiny, as both West Coast and Fremantle players have been having foot and ankle issues since Optus Stadium was first used in 2018.
Other Eagles who have experienced issues with the AFL’s new jewel venue are Tom Barrass and Willie Rioli, both of whom have missed big chunks this season. Elliot Yeo and Jamie Cripps dealt with similar issues over the summer.
You cannot play footy without your feet.